The Low End Mac Mailbag

Working with MS Works Files, Using Mac Disks on a PC, HyperCard, Upgrades, and More

Dan Knight - 2003.05.09 - Tip Jar

MS Works and RTFs; NuBus video for 7100

After reading Update: iBook, Jaguar, and More, Chris Kilner writes:

I think it is sad that some poor guy has to put up with Windows because "AppleWorks 6 does not have a Microsoft Works converter."

A much better solution would have been to use Works to convert all the Works documents to RTF (rich text format) when they are archived on CD to use with a Mac. AppleWorks, TextEdit, and just about any other word processor can open RTF files.

Also, w/r/t upgrading a 7100, I have a SuperMac Thunder 24 with the optional daughtercard, which adds twin AT&T 3210 DSPs, to make this card into a SuperMac Thunder II GX 1152. I couldn't get it to run properly with OS 9 in the II GX configuration, but without the DSP daughtercard it worked fine - but considerably slower than onboard video that gets accellerated by the G3. If you know of anyone who wants the card (the ROM is v3.0), let me know.

I think it's sad that anyone has to put up with Microsoft Works, let alone Windows. But if that's the standard they have to work with, you don't have much choice.

Saving files as RTF may sound like a workable solution, but in my experience it's not a very good one. Export from MS Works to RTF. Open in AppleWorks and edit. Export from AppleWorks to RTF. Open in MS Works - and I'll bet you'll see changes in anything but the most basic documents.

Also, the additonal step of using "Save As..." instead of simply saving in annoying. A better solution would be MacLinkPlus translators, which can convert MS Word 4.5 files to ClarisWorks/AppleWorks format and back again. It cost $100, but it avoids the need to work with Windows at home if you prefer to use a Mac.

I don't know of anyone looking for an accelerated NuBus video card, but you might try listing it on the Low End Mac Swap List. With over 1,400 subscribers, there's a good chance someone will be interested.

Using a PC to Download Mac Software

After reading Using a PC to Download Mac Software, Lyall Moffitt suggests:

Hi, The following may come in useful: HFS Explorer <> and Nero can be used to make Mac HFS/HFS+ volumes on CD or floppy.

It can also mount HFS HDDs under Windows.

Thanks for the tip. I'll share it with our readers.

More on Using a PC to Download Mac Software

Alykhan Halani writes:

Regarding Keith Oliver's question about downloading Mac software on a PC, I recently found a utility called HFVExplorer, which, according to its website, is "an HFS volume browser for Windows NT and Windows 9x". In other words, it can read and write Mac formatted media. I have not actually used this utility yet, so I cannot say how well it works.

HFVExplorer is available here:

Thanks for the information. PC users may also be interested in Basilisk II, a Mac emulator for Windows, which is also linked on this page. For more on Basilisk II, see Basilisk II Puts a Mac on a Windows Computer and Mac Emulation with Basilisk II, vMac.

HyperCard and OS X

Responding to Peter da Silva's remarks in Further Thoughts on Apple Alienation, Walter J. Ferstl says:

You write:

You make a good point: Apple needs to first win over classic Mac users if they really want to win over Windows users.

My full acknowledgment. One could not have said it more clearly.

As I am the responsible consultant for an organization with about 20 Mac users (and still just one Windows PC) who are using various versions of Mac OS Classic (from v7.6 to v9.2), this is a very important point for me, too.

Some of these users are working on a daily basis with an application that I have written in HyperCard.

I started this programming effort in 1988 on a Macintosh SE with System 6-something that was the first and only computer for years in this organization. As things continued to grow (the organization as well as the application), the application went smoothly from System 6 to System 7 to OS 8.1 to 8.6 and, on some machines, to OS 9. The hardware path ran from MC68000, 8 MHz to G4 800 MHz (currently our top Mac here).

With all these hardware and software shifts and changes, the software (HyperCard, that is) did not give us any trouble, not once. On the contrary, it took full advantage of all the new hardware technologies without a hitch.

Personally, I consider HyperCard to be the most excellent software (in terms of general product quality, clean programming and flexibility) ever running on the Mac platform, if not on all platforms.

As you know, Apple's chiefs have decided not to take HyperCard with them into the "Promised Land" of Mac OS X. (It would not have been a big investment to do this - Kevin Calhoun, one of the members of the original HyperCard development team, estimated it to be six months' work for just two engineers.)

So be it - but I am not going to join the candy-coloured party, either.

I'll stick with the Mac models which are capable of running Mac OS Classic and therefore running HyperCard. There are still current Macs which boot into OS 9, and after that there will be enough second-hand Macs available that meet our modest computing needs here for a couple of years.

Thanks to all of you at Low End Mac for your excellent work in general. I visit your pages nearly every day. For a frequent buyer of used Mac hardware like me, there is nothing on the Web that comes close to Low End Mac as a resource. Thank you.

P.S. On top of all that I wrote above, I am also still a convinced user of a Newton MessagePad 2100, and so is a friend who is in charge of approving the hardware and software purchases I recommend.

HyperCard was brilliant. Where MacWrite and MacPaint had made it possible to be productive with early Macs when you bought them, HyperCard finally made it possible for Mac users to program their computers without investing in a programming language.

For better or worse, it joins the ranks of abandonded Apple software - along with Claris Emailer, Claris Home Page, MacWrite, MacDraw, MacPaint, Resolve, CyberDog, and others that Apple just gave up on. (ClarisWorks admittedly made MacWrite, MacDraw, MacPaint, and Resolve redundant.)

But your HyperCard stacks have not been completely forsaken. SuperCard still exists, and SuperCard 4 even runs as an OS X application. Claiming SuperCard is already 80% compatible with HyperCard, the manufacturer even provides an application to convert HyperCard stacks to SuperCard projects. You can even download a trial version of the software to see if it will work with your stacks.

If you switch, you'll want to upgrade your copy of HyperCard to the SuperCard Developer Version ($129). From there, you can create SuperCard applications using their SuperCard 4 Player, which eliminates the need to buy additional copies of SuperCard for each user.

Of course, nobody is going to force you to switch. Keep using the classic Mac OS until you have a compelling reason to switch. And when the time comes, you should be able to migrate your stacks to SuperCard and keep working as you have been for years.

Upgrading a Power Mac 7100 CD-ROM

After reading my comments in Upgrading a Power Mac 7100, Robert MacLeay writes:

I would take exception to your recommendations regarding a 2x vs. faster CD ROM drive.

While it is true that the older drives are adequate with most, if not all, commercially produced CDs, they are most definitely not with CD-R and CD-RW. I have had plenty of problems with various CD readers which would not read a homemade disk, and compatibility seems directly proportional to the speed of the drive. (Of course, speed is not the issue; it merely correlates to newness of the drive electronics.)

For instance, on my G3-upgraded 9600s, the 12x CD drive cannot read disks which the 24x drive has no problems with. Another example would be my WallStreet, whose DVD player will read (even without the PC card installed) homemade CDs which my two 20x drives report as unreadable.

That said, I'd recommend an external CD drive which could more easily be taken along when he upgrades from the 7100, or even better, an early external FireWire CD-RW in combination with a USB/FW PCI card.

I stand by my recommendation. Unless you actually use the CD-ROM drive regularly and use it for more than simply installing software, there's not much sense in putting in a faster CD-ROM.

On the other hand, if working with CD-R and CD-RW is an issue, the user has no choice but to buy a drive that will read them.

One more thing: There's no way to put a PCI card in a NuBus Mac.

Mac Reliability

Continuing our discussion in Update: iBook, Jaguar, and More, Ken. Cavaliere-Klick writes:

Granted that Apple does not make drives - few computer makers are actually making computers but farming out designs to computer mills - but on a premium product that carries a premium price, I had the expectation of a higher level of quality control. There's enough chatter on the iBook forum about hard drives and heat to raise a red flag.

I suspect the hard drive did not fail because of bad hard drive design, if it is indeed the hard drive. I suspect the fan. I have not heard the fan since I did the 10.2.4 and 10.2.5 update. I think this may be where the problems lies.

More important is the negative impact that bringing a nearly new iBook into my office for return, an all PC office full of potential switchers.

As for AppleWorks, I did a little digging into my old versions, and there wasn't a current Works converter. Now here's an untapped market! Many home PCs have Works. Once a user starts with Works and its proprietary format, they are pretty much stuck with Works. This may not still be true, but even Office does not have a Works converter - but Works can read some Office files.

Of course, the same could be said of AppleWorks, one of the ultimate proprietary formats. Not to slam either of these programs but it is high time we ended these over exclusive document formats.

I'm sure people who bought Ford Explorers with Firestone Wilderness AT tires felt the same way as the problems and recall unfolded. To this day the question remains whether it was the tires or Ford's recommendation to keep them underinflated that caused the problem, but the combination was deadly.

Although poor quality control by a memory or hard drive manufacturer can reflect poorly on Apple, it is the manufacturer of the component who is responsible for producing a quality product. Apple is not an expert on hard drive manufacture; they have to leave that to the experts. All Apple can do is pick vendors; they cannot become responsible for every component in every computer without vastly increasing the price of their already expensive computers.

Apple is responsible for designing an environment where the components will work well. If the drives or CPUs or other parts Apple installs are overheating, Apple is responsible for the poor airflow or whatever else is causing the problem. And Apple is usually very good about handling problems, such as replacing the noisy (wind tunnel) power supplies on early Mirror Drive Door G4s for free.

As the manufacturer of the computer and company responsible for integratinig components purchased from various other manufacturers, Apple is responsible under warranty to replace defective components - but in the case of hard drives, they simply turn around and send them back to the manufacturer for replacment.

Mac users have been dealing with hard drive issues since the sticktion problems of the 40 MB hard drive era. Hard drives are one of the few moving parts in a computer. They tend to produce a fair bit of heat and are the most likely component to fail. Apple has to pick their suppliers carefully to keep from damaging their own reputation, and they generally do a very good job of it.

As for MS Works files, the MacLinkPlus translators should solve your problem.

GeForce PCI Cards Unsupported

Drew Beckett inquired about drivers for PCI Nvidia cards in Performa 6200 Unlisted Upgrade. Adam Hope writes:

Apples drivers do not really support PCI GeForce cards. No PCI GeForce card has ever been released for the Mac, and it is only through cross-flashing that any PCI GeForce cards have ever worked in a Mac. Even then these will only work in B/W G3s and above. (Incidentally the GeForce 2MX PCI/AGP and non-Ti versions of the AGP GeForce 3 are still the only PC GeForce cards that can be flashed with a Mac ROM).

Quite frankly though, the thought of putting a GeForce FX 5200 in a 6500 is ridiculous! Most modern graphics cards are designed to be fed from an AGP port, and when PCI versions are released they spend most of their time waiting for the computer to provide them with more data. That holds true even for modern Macs and PCs. Any modern graphics card is going to be complete over kill in a 6200/6500.

Besides, for the cost of a card like this you could probably buy a second hand beige G3.

I think the reader should accept that his 6500 is not going to get much faster. The money he considers spending on upgrades would be far, far better spent on a much newer second-hand Mac. Truthfully, any more money invested in this machine is wasted money.

However, if he really wants to upgrade the video, his best bet is either a VooDoo 3 or a Radeon 7000. If he goes the route of the Radeon 7000, it is only worth it if you flash a PC R7000 (Google will turn up plenty of results on how to do this). A retail R7000 for the Mac costs around 100 USD, 25 USD more than the average price of a Beige G3, which overall would be a much better machine.

At a certain point the cost of upgrading any machine will be more than the cost of a completely new machine; when this happens it's time to think rationally and really consider the maths.

We're definitely on the same page there. One upgrade at a time may make economic sense, but three or four all at once will invariably cost more than a newer Mac that's better in almost every respect.

I have almost no experience with the PowerPC Performas, aside from a "road apple" 5200/75 in the basement that I used to verify that these machines are fine a freestanding computers but a really, really bad when connected to other computers.

From my reading, the best PCI video card for Macs is the Radeon Mac Edition, not the newer Radeon 7000. In Bare Feats testing, the older Radeon Mac Edition beat the 7000 in every test. If you check completed auctions on eBay, you'll see that word is getting out - the older Mac Edition is selling for a lot more than the newer 7000.

Of course, that's the card to pick whether it's going into a 6500, 7600, or beige G3, so buying it for the hybrid 6200/6500 today means having a great video card for the next second-hand Power Mac.

eMac Prophecy

Matt Gallagher writes:

I was reading the Low End Mac's "on this day in Mac and LEM History" and I noticed that exactly 2 years ago today(-ish) you put forward thoughts that Apple should introduce an iMac for education called the "eMac" with a 17-inch screen at $699 for education.

Okay, the eMac has been out for a while (did you get royalties for the name?) but yesterday it finally hit your exact price-point. Due to your almost exact 2 year lead-time on this prediction, I thought I'd tell you...

I'm not worthy.

That is kinda frightening. I suggested Apple could keep the cost down by eliminating the modem, which is unnecessary on a networked computer. The CD-ROM eMac had no modem.

I suggested Apple offer CD-ROM, CD-RW, Combo, and SuperDrive options. Lo and behold, the eMac was offered in all of these forms - and also with a DVD-ROM drive.

I suggested Apple only offer the eMac in a single color. Snow it is.

I also explained why a 15" display on a Mac provided as much information as a 17" display on a PC (well, it did before OS X). Today 17" is pretty much a minimum for a CRT, as it very nicely displays 1024 x 768 - and displays 1280 x 960 reasonably well, too.

And the oddest thing of all is that I'm actually considering buying an eMac for Low End Mac to become my main computer, replacing my TiBook while it goes in for service - and then making my 400 MHz TiBook my backup and field computer.

Too bad I didn't think to trademark the name....

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Dan Knight has been publishing Low End Mac since April 1997. Mailbag columns come from email responses to his Mac Musings, Mac Daniel, Online Tech Journal, and other columns on the site.

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